First Lady Releases Child Obesity Recommendations

…largely blames mothers for child’s obesity.

cue shock and surprise

Link to the AP article

Some particular gems (note throughout these that the child omgbesity is referred to, without challenge, as “the problem”):

Mrs. Obama has said she wants to help solve the problem in a generation so babies born today will come of age at a healthy weight. The report says that could happen if childhood obesity rates dropped to 5 percent by 2030.

Read: Non-experts who don’t apparently know anything about statistics, genetics, and the science of size can now control billions of dollars and influence countless lives as long as they’re somehow connected to an influential politician (this is not new, of course, but it can’t be reiterated too many times in my opinion).

Or: Welcome to the moral panic. Check your deviant status—and your children—at the door.

Or: The report says that one can solve the problem in a generation if rates drop to very low in a generation—i.e., one can solve the problem if one solves the problem—i.e., the utter BS non-speak tautologies presented as some kind of ‘revelation’ in order to push an agenda fueled by bias and the politics of crisotunity rather than facts and reasonable outcomes.

The report says a woman’s weight before she becomes pregnant and her weight gain during pregnancy are two of the most important factors that determine, before a child is born, whether he or she will become obese. [bold mine]

Read: Fat women have a higher likelihood of giving birth to fat children. Before driving in the Duh! Truck, realize that they’re not implying here that fat is genetic. In fact there isn’t the single, slightest nod paid to the overwhelming (77%) role genetics plays in the determination of weight. The report is written on the assumption that weight—for a mother before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and then the weight of the child—are completely controllable. Of course, instead of just assuming fat children would become thin children with the ‘proper’ diet, it attempts to correlate some hoo-doo about the physiology of fat mothers and future fat children. If this seems convoluted to you, then you’re on the right track. Instead of talking about genetics or talking about what fuels significant weight gain in pregnancy (someone more expert correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that large pregnancy weight gains in general are most strongly correlated with a concurrent cessation of a calorie-restricted diet), they couch everything in dubious ‘risk factor’ and correlative language.

(As an aside, if anyone has a copy of this actual report, I’d like to read it. I have a feeling it’s just a data dredge survey of some kind)

Something also very interesting to note, for those who have a nose for these public policy scienterrific press releases: the selective use of numbers. Note that the statistical correlations between fat moms (before pregnancy), weight gain (during pregnancy) are just reported as existent, while the correlation between breast-fed and reduction of obesity likelihood is stated outright (apparently 22%, but remember this is an odds ratio, so what that really means is that if the average bottle-fed child has a 15% chance of becoming obese, if they are breast fed then this goes down by 22% of 15% — that is, by 3%. So if the average bottle-fed child has a 15% chance of becoming obese, the average breast-fed child apparently has a 12% chance. The numbers are a bit less scary, no? That’s why they’re reported as odds ratios instead of real probabilities — to inflate their significance).

Predictions: American Health Care and Fat People

Now that the ‘reform’ of Healthcare, i.e., delivering 1/6th of the American economy into the hands of government, has passed the House and been signed by the President, I want to make a prediction or two. These predictions are nothing new for this blog, and if you’re interested in my more general thoughts of the connections between various kinds of heathcare systems and the obesity epipanic, please read:

  1. Case-building: Making Fatties the Deviants
  2. When Other People Pay for It, They Can Claim the Right to Control It
  3. Government Healthcare is Bad for Fat People
  4. Universal Healthcare and Fat
  5. Libertarians and Obesity, Take Two
  6. Eliminate Fat People?
  7. When Your Body is No Longer Yours
  8. Why Universal Healthcare Should Be Opposed By Fat Activists
  9. Universal Healthcare is Not Automatically Fat Friendly

But I’m not here to yet again debate the merits (or demerits, in my view) of a universal system. We didn’t get a universal system with Sunday night’s signing: we got more of a Delayed Trojan Horse, which lays the groundwork for the system to be pushed in the direction of going single-payer, during Democrat-controlled Congresses and Administrations. But I’m not going to explain that right now, either, though there are scads of lovely posts on it on WSJ, Econ blogs, Cato, Mises, etc.

That being said, comments are closed.

So here my predictions on how we’re going to start seeing this new law change the cultural conversation about fat people.

  • In the short term: “You mean, I have to pay for YOUR fat ass, now? This sucks. I hate fatties, but I hate government more. Damned health insurance bill.” — oh, hai evidence, relying on the new Donna Simpson Straw Fatty Model, no less.
  • In the medium term: Increase of employer/government weight-loss ‘health’ initiatives; pouring money into weight-reduction schemes (esp. in public schools) sanctioned at a higher rate, getting more general public support; general stigmatization of ‘fatties’ for being fat, but a sense of compassion. Open derision of fat people as costing ‘more’ health dollars, as premiums skyrocket even higher, choice becomes less, it’s harder to find a good doctor, waiting times for appts increase, and so forth. Talk will begin to filter down that the regulatory boards should consider charging fat people more for health insurance, or not allowing them access to certain procedures because fatties who undergo those procedures ‘cost more’ than thinnies.
  • In the long term: When the anti-obese people ‘health’ initiatives don’t work to make fat people permanently thin, more drastic measures will be taken, all at high cost (which will gain the ire of taxpayers), with the ‘reasoning’ that some high cost, drastic measure like surgery is ‘necessary’ to ‘save lives and save more, chronic health expenditures down the road.’ We might have single payer by this time, which would compound the issue. Costs aren’t going to go down, so what you’ll see instead is rather than the government take responsibility for the fact that they’re going to destroy the system and explode costs with inefficiency and regulatory schemes, they’ll point the finger at some kind of scapegoat — you guessed it, the fatty. (cough, NHS, cough) Fatties will be banned from undergoing lots of ‘elective’ procedures (like fertility treatments, knee replacements, etc) unless they lose weight. There will be no competition, no recourse: the fatty will have no ability to go to another doctor or institution and perhaps be able to get it there, since the regulatory measures anti-competitively are ‘blanket’ measures (in order to ensure healthcare ‘equality,’ you know. Less for everyone, but especially those we deem to cost more by nature of their existence!). Government-controlled research institutions will, like the Big Pharma-backed institutions of yore, churn out anti-fat ‘research’ which is carefully structured in order to support their inevitable open discrimination against fat people. And so forth, however far down this slope you feel like sliding.

On Saturday I felt like much more of a human being than I do today, in America. Now, I feel a target on my back, because my government has decided that the way to cover the 10-15 million uninsured that have fallen through the cracks of the system (the 30 million number counts those who purposefully don’t buy insurance, as well as those who qualify for assistance but aren’t utilizing it) is to redistribute a massive chunk of wealth and regulate 1/6th of the economy, all the while ignoring smaller, more market-friendly steps that could have immediately increased access and lowered costs.

Thanks for giving the obesity epipanic in America a government club. Can’t wait for this to all pan out, surely in the fatties’ favor, if other countries with government medicine are any indication.

Eugenics Rears Its Ugly Head, Again

When you deliver your body to the State, expect the State to start:

  1. Making you do things
  2. Preventing you from doing things

In other words, if you hand your body over to someone else, that someone else will claim the right to control it.

Today I was rudely reminded that eugenics, one of the nasty platforms of famous fascist/socialist states like Nazi Germany, is alive and well (h/t Elizebeth). Eugenics posits that one can (must) improve the species by allowing some people to have children, and disallowing others. In our modern time, it has also become more selective: couples can choose to have children with certain genetic makeups and not others. All in the name of having the ‘best’ child, who will become the ‘best’ kind of citizen and human, and that these ‘best’ people are superior in general to naturally-born, unselected people.

In this current example, The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE)), has recommended practitioners or governments which follow the Society’s recommendations, void the Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for certain classes of people, namely (bolding mine):

1) In view of the risks for the future child, fertility doctors should refuse treatment to women used to more than moderate drinking and who are not willing or able to minimize their alcohol consumption.

2) Treating women with severe or morbid obesity required special justification. The available data suggested that weight loss would incur in a positive reproductive effect, although more data was needed to establish whether assisted reproduction should be made conditional upon prior life-style changes for obese and smoking females.

3) Assisted reproduction should only be conditional upon life style changes, if there was strong evidence that without behavioural modifications there was a risk of serious harm to the child or that the treatment became disproportional in terms of cost-effectiveness or obstetric risks.

4) When making assisted reproduction conditional upon life style modifications, fertility doctors should help patients to achieve the necessary results.

5) More data on obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption as well as other life style factors were necessary to assess reproductive effects. Fertility doctors should continue research in this area.

Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (bolding mine):

Article 16
  1. Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
  2. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
  3. The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

It is my firm belief that being fat is intertwined with racial status, since fat is preponderantly genetic. Therefore, discriminating against fat people is discriminating against them based on their racial status. Again, fat is not a behavior. Fat is not a disease. Fat is a body type, which is preponderantly genetic.

To understand how ridiculous this is, just consider this one fact: the fear of diabetes is one of the largest health ‘risks’ that anti-obesity crusaders tout when trying to get you into a panicked enough state to agree to their fascist ultimatums. And having diabetes in your immediate family is by far the largest risk factor for having diabetes yourself. Yet, women who already have diabetes — or heart disease, or a history of cancer, or any of the other major ills thrown at the doorstep of fatness — aren’t disallowed from getting reproductive help in the article being discussed here.

This isn’t about the future health of the child (a concept right out of eugenics, by the way), or whatever malarkey they’re concocting to get you to go along with their crusade. Or else women with diseases shown to be genetic wouldn’t be allowed to get reproductive help. No, this is a direct attempt to make formal the second-class status of unpopular groups of people.

As a final note, not only should it be a basic human right for a woman to reproduce if she so chooses. It should also be a basic human right to contract with another individual for services that do not violate other basic human rights. In other words, if there’s a doctor willing to contract with you for IVF services, then you have the right to proceed.

Quick Hit: The Myth of the Obesity Tsunami

A great Op-Ed is out today from Cato: The Myth of the “Obesity Tsunami”

Here are the last three paragraphs, but I encourage you to read the whole piece. No Sanity Watchers’ points required!

The findings of the English survey not only contradict the claim that we are in the midst of an obesity epidemic, but they also debunk the public health establishment’s erroneous claim that increases in children’s weight are due to junkfood advertising and too many sugary soda drinks. According to the survey, the root cause of any weight gains that one does see appear to lie in physical activity levels. For example, “21 per cent of girls aged two to 15 in the low physical-activity group were classed as obese compared with 15 per cent of the high group”.

A similar pattern was found in the 2006 survey, which found that 33 per cent of girls aged two to 15 with low levels of physical activity were either overweight or obese compared with 27 per cent of those with high levels of physical activity. As with smoking, obesity prevalence was higher in both boys and girls in the lowest income group.

Clearly, governments’ current course of draconian regulatory treatment seeks to cure an illusory disease. The nanny state’s infatuation with an obesity epidemic that does not exist is a searing indictment of this particular public health crusade.

Libertarians and Obesity, Take Two

I’ve often talked about libertarianism and size issues: namely, that libertarians are the best political friend of fat people, and that nationalized healthcare (of which libertarians are the most vehement opposers) will steal away our most precious of civil rights, namely, the right to make choices for our own bodies. How does nationalized healthcare do this? By making others foot our healthcare bills, making those groups of people who are perceived to “raise” costs easy scapegoats for a healthcare model that’s doomed to fail by definition. So when it inevitably fails, it won’t be the model or the voters or the bureacrats who are held accountable, but those scapegoats.

I came across this article from 2006 that cleanly illustrates this effect:

The libertarian assumption is that we should all be free to do what we want, as far as possible, and if some people’s lifestyle choices involve snacking on deep-fried Mars bars and triple-processed cheeseburgers, other people have no business interfering, still less the government.

However, obesity does not concern only the obese. It concerns all of us. Obese parents produce obese children, and obesity places a crippling burden on the National Health Service, quite apart from the many personal miseries involved.

The moral of the story?

Don’t get government involved in healthcare. Don’t place private citizens in the situation where their neighbor can claim to be footing the bill for their perceived choices. It’s NOT a good idea.

UPDATE: Comments are furthermore closed. If you are interested how free markets work, and why nationalized heathcare doesn’t make economic sense, please grab texts in basic Micro and Macro, and especially Price Theory. I also recommend reading up on basic game theory, though that’s a bit more abstract. Additionally, there is a very interesting evidence-based site called The Problems with Socialized Health Care I suggest everyone who wants to comment here at least breezes through.

Son of Porkulus

The news contained in this post is so horrifying that I’m going to put up some extremely cute pictures along with the text to try to offset the mounting terror.

cutie2

The bizarrely massive porkulus bill that just passed the senate, has had some interesting little hidden things in it. And by “interesting” I mean “horrific” and by “little” I mean “enormous”.

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Look back at the doggie!

cutie1

So never mind that I pay to go to a PRIVATE doctor, whom I expect to keep my fucking business to HIMSELF – now he will have to report my every visit, my every prescription, to the feds? THE FEDS? (I dare say some doctors are going to go rogue on this one – this is an outrage beyond most outrages I’ve ever read of – they NEED to step up and say “NO, we will NOT do this.” A database? A fucking FEDERAL database? You weren’t worried about stupid little things like your privacy, were you? Your autonomy? Your liberty? You can kiss those things goodbye, pal. They were never yours.

dumbooctopus-s448x450-2298-580

Now my doctor weighed me once, the first time I visited him; and has never mentioned my weight to me, or asked me to get on the scale. He is more concerned about things like my asthma and my stress levels. But God forbid he asks me now – the feds will most certainly tell him that I must lose weight and if I don’t I’ll be non-compliant…that won’t help them save money, right? Never mind that IT’S MY FUCKING MONEY I’m spending to get PRIVATE treatment from my PRIVATE PERSONAL doctor.

dorayaki

This is so far beyond a travesty that I’m getting speechless. I could go on about it for weeks, months, and never hit the end, and I’m exhausted just thinking about it. Well, frankly I’ve been hearing a lot of people screaming about socialist health care and how we need it. All it costs you is your privacy and your liberty and your autonomy. And MINE TOO. Thanks a fucking lot. All I ever asked is to be left OUT of these plans and to be allowed to live my life – because, you know, the constitution says I have that right. Form all the little socialist societies you want and all the voluntary plans you want, but leave me out of it. Now these people have thrown out *everyone’s* autonomy for them. Nice job. Those of you who wanted it – hope you enjoy it as much as I will. TANSTAAFL, but no one knows this anymore. Pfft. Here’s a pretty good rant on it; most of which I would have said myself. Enjoy. 🙂

UPDATE: Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)
What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

Even before socialized medicine inevitably degenerates into mandatory euthanasia à la Logan’s Run, the elderly will be hit hard.

Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.

It just gets better and better.

When Your Body is No Longer Yours

Many civil rights activists agree: your body, you business. If you’re not hurting anyone else, what’s the business of others if they perceive that you’re hurting yourself? In the past, these activist issues have extended to protect freedom of choice to have an abortion, freedom to smoke cigarettes and ingest other substances that might not be beneficial to your mind and body, and other bodily freedoms, as long as they did not, as a consequence, inflict harm on others.

However, the temptation to control the body of a citizen – thereby robbing the citizen of its most essential right, and reducing the citizen to an effective slave to the whims of the State Health Ministry – is very powerful. A society is a complex entity, and a politician who desires a predictable, machine-like State which operates in a certain way towards a particular purpose, will do what he can to control the variables of the system.

Even just one uncontrolled variable can throw the whole complex societal system out of whack, we learn from chaos theory (it’s called a metastable state, for anyone who wants to know), history, and excellent science fiction like Orwell’s 1984.

This push for absolute control has spelled the downfall of other perfectly good societies. Big Brother can’t be everywhere at once, and if there’s one citizen who isn’t completely controlled, then there exists the possibility for chaos to erupt and for the whole system to collapse.

That’s why the road towards tighter and more extensive controls starts with the loss of basic civil rights: once one has been corrupted, the others soon follow. The most basic civil right is the right to body autonomy; it is reasonable to fear that once the right to body autonomy has been corrupted, other civil rights will follow.

Body autonomy has been eroded over the past twenty or so years. The test case – of whether or not Americans could be so bamboozled – was anti-smoking legislation. Get into private businesses to control the bodily decisions of private citizens, and anything is possible.

The logical question in the minds of some politicians that followed from the outstanding success of anti-smoking legislation was: if we can change the behavior of an individual by claiming that behavior is harming others, how do we go about convincing the populace that more general behaviors are potentially harmful to others?

The answer: by first making bodily behaviors your neighbor’s financial responsibility instead of just your own, and then by redefining “harm” to include any arbitrarily “unreasonable” financial burden.

It’s taken a while, but the path has been laid and we’re now firmly traveling down it. Here are the steps towards the ultimate establishment of bodily ‘serfdom’:

  1. Cultivate a “preventative” healthcare system. Get in bed with anyone who’s hawking a bottle of Fountain of Youth Elixir [TM].
  2. Cultivate a fearful attitude in the population. Overestimate deaths, diseases, and average costs from those stereotypical ills a “preventative” healthcare system claims to eradicate. Frame our existence as one in “crisis.” Suggest such ills are contagious, and call their set an “epidemic.” Frame the situation as one in which public health is at risk.
  3. Promote a government-controlled healthcare system by painting private care blackly and public care as cheaper, more efficient, and better quality. Use classist arguments to suggest that only the rich can afford decent healthcare, that their healthcare is excessive, and they should be paying for a more moderate policy plus a few policies for others.
  4. Once government-controlled healthcare is established in some form (all it needs is a toehold, as in Massachusetts), burrow ever-deeper into the hide of Americans, tick-style. Argue that since healthcare is no longer private, the costs of healthcare are therefore shared by everyone.
  5. Use this argument to suggest that those who do not endeavor to follow “preventative” health measures are deviant, and are financially “harming” their fellow citizens via their “irresponsbility.”
  6. Draft legislation which scapegoats certain easily-identifiable groups of deviants which  fines them, enslaves their bodies to meet arbitrary wellness “requirements,” forces their children into camps or otherwise divests the deviants of parental rights, and in general slowly divests the deviants of all their basic civil rights if they don’t “comply.”
  7. If this works, then make up new maladies, and find new ways to finger other groups of people who didn’t before fall into a deviant class. Slowly divest all citizens of their civil rights when they fail to “comply” to be responsible and not cause “undue harm” to their citizens financially or otherwise.
  8. The step after this one frightens me, honestly. I’ll leave it up to your imagination.